Gatlinburg Police Department welcomes new K-9 to force

.—The Gatlinburg Police Department has unveiled its newest addition to its force.

New K-9 unit Kylo joined the ranks of the Police Department on his first birthday, which was November 23, and is handled by Officer Bryce Pickens. Kylo is newest of two K-9 units in the force, joining Aura, who came on board with the Police Department in July 2019.

Kylo, which is a Belgium Malinois breed, passed all of his certifications on November 5 and has law enforcement in his blood. His parents are also K-9 working dogs and serve a local sheriff’s office in Kentucky. Pickens identified Kylo through PDK9, based out of McCreary County, Kentucky and purchased the dog and began to train him to join the force. IMG_7832

The Gatlinburg Police Department uses K-9 units for discovering narcotics and tracking missing persons.

“Kylo is trained in narcotics detection and can be used out on the street or in the school systems if there is a suspicion of drugs,” Pickens said. “He has also started tracking, so if we were to have a missing child or a missing person, he can pick up the scent and we can use him to track and utilize him to put us on the right track, instead of having 10 or 15 people out searching.”

With Kylo joining Aura on the Gatlinburg Police force, having two K-9 units on the force will now make one available at all hours.

“Having Kylo with Aura gives us two dogs so now we don’t have to keep someone on call constantly,” Gatlinburg Police Chief Randy Brackins said. “It makes it a lot easier now for our officers to get out and enjoy their time off and we always now have one close by on the night shift that we can utilize if we need one here in the City.”

Aside from being a working patrol dog, the use of K-9s such as Kylo also provide companionship for the officers.

“It’s awesome to have K-9s with us in the department,” Brackins said. “Everyone loves dogs. K-9s are good the Department and the officers. The officers enjoy the companionship and the close working relationship they have with their dogs.”

The use of the dogs on patrol also helps create a bond, which Pickens said he started almost to form immediately after acquiring Kylo.

“Kylo is like a part of my family,” Pickens said. “When I first got him, I worked on making a bod with him where he will work better for me. At first, it was a ton of playing around and giving belly rubs like you would a normal dog. Now we have a special bond.“On these late nights when there is not as much going on, it’s not as lonely out there,” Pickens said “I have got someone I can get out and play with.”

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